Montgomery County’s effort to reduce homelessness and address the medical needs of those who regularly live on the County’s streets and in shelters will take on a new phase this year as the County government, County non-profit organizations, volunteers and elected officials join in the County’s participation in the national “100,000 Homes” campaign. At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 26, at the Home Builder’s Care Assessment Center men’s emergency shelter in Rockville, the program to survey the needs of the County’s homeless people toward finding housing for those who are the most vulnerable will be detailed and an effort to seek volunteer help will be launched.
County Executive Isiah Leggett, Montgomery County Councilmembers George Leventhal and Craig Rice will be among those joining representatives of the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless (MCCH) and other organizations in offering details of the Montgomery “100,000 Homes” campaign. The Home Builder’s Care Assessment Center is located at 600-B East Gude Drive in Rockville.
A major step in finding permanent housing for the hundreds of Montgomery homeless people believed to be medically vulnerable or chronically homeless will be conducting a county-wide survey of those needing help—and creating ways to help them move into permanent housing. The survey will be conducted from Nov. 4-6, with volunteers receiving training on Sunday, Nov. 3.
“The 100,000 Homes campaign has worked in other areas of the nation and Montgomery County has been studying the most successful practices used,” said Councilmember Leventhal, who urged the County Council to fund the program. “We are fortunate in our County. If we can identify the most medically vulnerable homeless people in our County who can be helped, we have the resources to help them. Not all jurisdictions are in that position. Taking this survey is crucial to the success of this effective program.”
The County is seeking to have at least 300 volunteers participate in organizing and conducting the survey and other key campaign activities. It is hoped that members of civic groups, religious organizations, employees in corporations and individuals will offer to be part of the effort. In most cases, volunteers will be needed from 4 to 7 a.m. on the days the survey will be conducted. Those are the hours when people who are homeless can most easily be identified on the streets.
“Helping those most vulnerable in our community is extremely important,” said County Executive Leggett. “This campaign will help us identify those at greatest need so we can help move them into permanent housing. I know that our residents will answer our call to volunteer and I know that their experience will be rewarding.”
County Council Vice President Craig Rice said the County must take steps to help solve a continuing problem.
“This County has done many things over the years to help address our homeless population,” said Council Vice President Rice. “The 100,000 Homes Campaign targets a special segment of this population—a population that has been difficult to help. Through this program, and the steps that are being put in place, we now have a better chance of letting them tell us their needs and then directly working to finding housing for these most vulnerable people.”
Playing a key role in implementing the campaign will be the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless and the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services.
The 100,000 Homes Campaign will build on the progress that Montgomery County has made since adopting its Housing First model in 2008. The number of formerly homeless individuals residing in permanent supportive housing has increased to 641 in 2013, representing a 140 percent increase since 2008. Over the past year, the County expanded the Housing Initiative Program (HIP) with 25 deep subsidies to serve medically vulnerable individuals. The County recently received an additional 15 VASH (Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing) vouchers, bringing to 80 the number of vouchers received over the past four years.
MCCH is a leading provider of permanent housing, Safe Havens housing, emergency shelter and supportive services for homeless and formerly homeless individuals. MCCH collaborates with a range of community partners to obtain needed resources and achieve solutions to homelessness.
The 100,000 Homes Campaign is a national movement in which more than 200 communities are working to find permanent homes for 100,000 chronically homeless and medically vulnerable residents across the nation. The campaign’s work is driven by multiple studies demonstrating that homeless individuals are three to four times more likely to die prematurely than the general population, resulting in average lifespan 25 years shorter than that of the average American.
Recently, representatives from MCCH, HHS and other areas of County government attended a 100,000 Homes Campaign training in preparation for Montgomery County’s local campaign. The training provided strategic outreach tactics that will be used to recruit and prepare the volunteers needed to conduct medical vulnerability surveys as a part of the campaign’s November 2013 registry week.
“This is a powerful initiative,” said Susie Sinclair-Smith, MCCH executive director. “Going to the training was a great experience; we each walked away with valuable ideas and felt part of a strong local team. We are eager to begin spreading the word and engaging the broader community about this vital campaign.”
Anyone interested in volunteering for the Montgomery County 100,000 Homes Campaign or registry week can sign up at the MCCH web site at:
More information on reducing homelessness also is available at:
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